The Gallipoli Peninsula.
The Peninsula in the Thrace region, of North-West Turkey is washed on one side by the Agean Sea and on the other by the Dardanelles, the narrow strait that connects the Marmara Sea with the Agean. It is visited by thousands of Australians and New Zealanders on the 25th April each year to commemorate Anzac Day. Our visit was on the 14th September, 2013.
We (The Allies) were the Agressors but The Ottomans were the victors. The battle raged from April 25th 1915 to 9th January 1916.
Some eight years after that battle, the modern Republic of Turkey was formed under the leadership of the much loved Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who first came to prominence as a commander during the war.
The Anzac Soldiers named this headland The Sphinx as it reminded them of the Sphinx at their previous posting in Egypt.
Anzac Commemorative Site.
On Anzac Day 10,500 people are accommodated on this site. Tiered seating is arranged around the perimeter with standing room in the middle. The walkway in the foreground (below) is where the commemorative plaques are displayed.
The Sphinx towers over the site. The photo below is taken from the beach side looking up to the commemorative plaques. Between the plaques and the Sphinx is a grassed area.
We had the site to ourselves and took time to contemplate and process all we had learned about the events that took place in this beautiful place all those years ago. It is hard to understand why Wars are fought.
From Anzac Cove we took the one-way circular road to the memorials up on the hill. The first we visited was the Lone Pine Cemetery for Australian Soldiers.
Back in 1915 the Aussie soldiers used the lone pine that stood up on the ridge above Anzac Cove as a reference point. Prior to the War there were many more pines but they had been cut to line the trenches of the Turkish Soldiers. In August 1915 the AIF (Australian Imperial Forces) attacked those Turkish trenches. They won the battle but not the war. 2000 AIF soldiers and 7000 Turkish soldiers died in the battle.
An AIF soldier collected pine cones from the branches atop the Turkish Trenches and sent the seeds to his mother, one of which was eventually planted at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In a strange twist of fate it turned out that the pine branches atop the trenches were in fact brought in from elsewhere and the pine seed cultivated and planted in Australia in 1934 was an Aleppo Pine, not seed of the Lone Pine in Gallipoli at all. But we have stuck with the imposter pine and eighty years later it stands 30 metres tall, in honour of the fallen soldiers.
Not only have we adopted the Aleppo Pine but 500 are propogated and sold each year as Lone Pines. Two have even made the return trip to Turkey. You can read more about that amazing story here.
It says a lot about the graciousness of Turkish People that they allow the countries of the Allied Forces to commemorate their fallen soldiers by the placing of Memorials on the Peninsula.
The 57th Turkish Regiment Cemetery.
Across the road from the Turkish Memorial are the remnant trenches. The Turkish people feel strongly about the loss of life on their Peninsula, but today bear no grudges against their then Enemies. In a wonderful show of hospitality and forgiveness a Turkish family approached me at Chunuk Bair. The father introduced himself as Turkish and asked my Nationality. On hearing it was Australian he smiled, shook my hand and welcomed me to Gallipoli. I felt very humble in the light of such generosity.
Kanlisirt Aniti (Kanlisirt Memorial)
English Translation of the Turkish Words on the below memorial read:
In order to help the British 9th Army Corps landing at Anarfarta district [Suvla Bay] on 6-7August 1915, the Anzac force attacked the Turkish 19th and 16th Divisions, who were defending the Ariburnu front, to hold them there. The units of the 16th Division, in spite of their heavy losses of 1520 martyrs and 4750 wounded during the extremely violent fights, heroically defended Kanlisirt.
The N.Z. Cemetery (632) and Memorial (850 names) takes it’s name from the southern summit of the central mountain range of the Peninsula.
The Peninsula is a peaceful place to visit. The beauty of the land, The Dardanelles and the Agean Sea alone is a fitting tribute to all the soldiers that lost their life on Gelibolu.
Views from Chunuk Bair.
ANZAC is an Acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corp. The ANZAC’s were formed and trained in Egypt during WWI (1915) and while originally destined for France some were instead sent to Turkey. It was disbanded when the troops were withdrawn, but the ANZAC’s have lived on in the hearts of Australians and New Zealanders. ANZAC day has grown and evolved to honour all troops who have left our shores and not returned.
Another historically important place to commemorate ANZAC day is at Villers-Bretonnuex, France. Read Jenny from A Taste of Travel’s account of the 2013 ANZAC day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonnuex here. Her pre-dawn photo of mist over the headstones gives me goosebumps.
Linked as usual to Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday over at Budget Travelers Sandbox.